Staggered on long straights
On long straights, it works best to ride in a so-called STAGGERED FORMATION.
The one in front rides at the right side of the lane; the one behind him on the left side of the same lane, the one behind him on the right side, etc. That way everybody can see ahead.
Not in corners
In corners, you don't keep a staggered formation: everybody chooses their own line through the corner. So keep in mind that the rider in front of you will start in the outside of the corner.
staggered group riding, the normal stagger distance is 1 -> 2 seconds, and no more than a 3 second gap, in order to maintain a tight formation and not allow traffic to interrupt and break up the formation. This means that each rider will be 2 -> 3 seconds behind the rider directly in front and using the same half of the lane. When coming to a stop, the group generally forms up two abreast / side by side. When the group starts off, the rider on the left starts first.
When riding in curves, the stagger is no longer warranted and a SINGLE FILE type of formation is normal. These changes in lane position should be dictated by the lead Rider. Holding two fingers straight up in the air (either the index and little fingers, or the first two fingers) indicates a staggered formation, while the index finger pointing straight up in the air is a direction for single file riding.
Single file riding allows the riders more freedom to negotiate the curves and to dodge obstacles while having the freedom to use the whole lane. In single formation the normal distance between riders is increased to 2 - 5 seconds. For safety, the single file formation should not be elongated to such a distance that the rider in front cannot be seen. There are two reasons for this:
1. It is much easier to negotiate around corners by using the next rider's position to "see" further around blind curves
2. The rider can see and pass back hand signals indicating obstacles or other information ahead.
DOUBLE FILE: a formation in which the members of a group ride adjacent to each other in pairs, used when riding in parade formation. Used after stopping at signs and traffic signals so that riders can get through an intersection quickly and together if possible. When departing from a stop, the rider in the left track normally pulls out before the rider on the right, returning to a staggered formation.
Concerning overtaking: don't follow the one before you blindly! If you lose the group, they will wait for you! Only overtake when *you* are able to see that it's possible.
Watch out for getting too tired. It happens more easily than you are used when riding alone or with people you know closely, because you are constantly watching the movements of the others.
credits to playtetris of MCP